Thunder – December 17, 1998

Thunder
Date: December 17, 1998
Location: Independence
Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina
Commentators: Lee
Marshall, Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Mike Tenay
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
It hasn’t occurred to
me that there are only ten days until Starrcade and it doesn’t seem
like WCW knows either. There aren’t very many matches made for the
show yet and one of the only matches has its only wrestler sidelined
with a heart attack. It’s almost like this company isn’t thinking
for the future at all and is making this up as they go. Let’s get to
it.

We open with the
announcers talk about Flair’s heart attack on Nitro before going to a
clip of Scott Steiner offering Luger a spot in the Black and White.
Konnan vs. Kenny
Kaos
I
think this is non-title. Konnan comes out first for some reason. Oh
my goodness I had completely forgotten Kaos was half of the Tag Team
Champions at this point. Seriously, when was that last mentioned?
Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell storm the announcers’ desk and demand
to know why Luger vs. Hall is happening tonight. Steiner says he’s
here to keep an eye on Luger and to get Lex’s career back on track.
He’ll be helping Luger beat Hall tonight. The camera is staying on
the commentators for most of the match but as we cut back it’s Konnan
basically squashing Kaos. Kenny comes back with something we don’t
see and getting two off a middle rope legdrop. Konnan shrugs it off
and wins with the Sunrise.
Here’s Kaos’ regular
partner Rage with his arm still in a cast. He wants to know what’s
up with Kaos teaming with someone else but Kaos says he has to make a
living while Rage is out. None of this is on a microphone so the
fans chant about wanting Flair.
Ric Flair’s family
(minus Ric) arrives.
We see Flair having a
heart attack again with the audio screwing up.
Fit Finlay vs. Mike
Enos
Now the video is
messing up as well. Finlay hammers away with a series of strikes in
the corner, capped off by some European uppercuts. A splash gets two
and Fit nails a clothesline to set up a chinlock. We head to the
floor a bit so the beating can continue with Enos being sent into the
barricade and down onto the cement. Back inside and we hit the
sleeper on Enos before he fights out and nails a few clotheslines.
The fans are bored and I can’t say I disagree. A nice shoulder
breaker gets two for Mike and he follows it up with a nicer powerslam
but he stops to gloat and gets rolled up for a fast pin.
Rating:
D+.
The match wasn’t bad but it certainly wasn’t interesting. This is
the problem that comes with Thunder so often: these guys never do
anything of note so why would I care to watch a just ok wrestling
match between them? It’s one thing if you have Juvy and Kidman
having meaningless matches that amaze the fans but seeing two power
brawlers beat on each other for four minutes doesn’t cut it.
Enos beats Finlay down
post match.
Bischoff wishes Flair
the best in his recovery.
Here’s Hall in street
clothes with something to say. He’s ready for his match with Luger
tonight and knows Luger will bring his best because Luger is a world
class athlete. Hall is all alone with no friends or family and now
all he has is wrestling. He wants to be on top of the world and is
ready to go through Luger to get there.
Tony and pals announce
Kidman defending against Guerrera and Mysterio in a three way at
Starrcade. We get some clips showing Kidman defending against both
and dealing with the LWO.
Rey
Mysterio Jr. vs. Prince Iaukea
Before the match Eddie
Guerrero comes out and says Prince isn’t wrestling tonight. The LWO
surrounds Iaukea and the Prince is given a choice. He wisely walks
to the back instead of dealing with this horrible gimmick, allowing
Juventud Guerrera to replace him in the match.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs.
Juventud Guerrera
Mysterio
scores with a quick shot as Juvy gets in before sending him to the
floor with a headscissors. Back in and both guys slip out of slams
before Juvy grabs the namesake Driver out of nowhere for two. A
tilt-a-whirl slam gets the same on Mysterio and they trade rollups
for two each. The announcers of course ignore the match to talk
about everything else. Juvy catches a charging Rey on his shoulder
and drops him down for Snake Eyes. Eddie is coming to the ring and
we take a break.
Back
with Juvy still in control but getting caught in a tilt-a-whirl
backbreaker from Mysterio for two. Mysterio misses a middle rope
splash and gets caught in something resembling a bulldog for two.
Juvy goes up for a dropkick but gets dropkicked out of the air in a
nice counter. Not that it matters as Juvy comes back with something
like a Liger Bomb. The distraction allows Eddie to sneak in with a
Frog Splash to give Juvy a cheap pin.
Rating:
C+.
That’s pretty much the baseline for these two but this wasn’t much
better than most of their stuff. The problem with the LWO angle is
it’s dominating the division but there’s nothing for them to fight
over as Mysterio is on the team as well, despite not wanting to be
there and causing Eddie a ton of issues.
Post match Iaukea comes
back out and tells the referee what happened. The referee buys it
for no apparent reason and Rey wins by DQ. Iaukea and Mysterio run
from the LWO before getting a bad beating.
Scott Steiner and Buff
Bagwell come in to see Lex Luger (man alive did WCW love
alliteration). They want to know what’s up with the main event
tonight and if he’s joining the Black and White but Konnan comes in
to say Lex is Wolfpack. Konnan leaves and we hear sounds of an
attack. Luger goes outside and sees Scott Hall. Lex yells at Hall
and checks on Konnan.
Shiima Nobunaga vs.
Disco Inferno
That’s
quite the random opponent. Disco comes out in a Wolfpack shirt and
howls before the match. They trade armbars to start until Shiima
hits a pair of dropkicks and cranks on an even better armbar. Disco
fights back with an atomic drop and clothesline to send Shiima out to
the floor. Shiima takes over with a Stunner across the top rope but
charges into an elbow to the jaw. The middle rope ax handle from
Disco sets up a chinlock before Shiima fights up and hits a quick
reverse powerbomb (as in Disco’s face hits the mat) for two. A top
rope cross body misses and Disco grabs the Chartbuster for the pin.
Rating:
D+.
What was the point of having Nobunaga in this one? I can’t imagine
this show had a huge audience and it’s not like there weren’t dozens
of guys that could have done this job just as well. The match wasn’t
bad but we’re at the point where Disco Inferno is winning squash
matches. That can’t be a good sign.
Remember the Flair
Family arriving earlier? Here it is again.
Jerry Flynn vs.
Norman Smiley
Great,
a Jerry Flynn match. Of course he starts by firing off kicks so
Norman grabs the leg to take over. Smart man that Smiley. The
spinning slam puts Flynn down but he comes back with a belly to back
suplex. Jerry tries a sunset flip but Norman stops to dance,
allowing Flynn to pull him down for two. More kicks have Norman in
trouble and Flynn puts on an ankle lock. A dropkick puts Jerry
outside and it’s BIG WIGGLE time! Back in and Jerry fires off more
kicks but gets caught in a sunset flip for another two count. Norman
escapes a slam and puts on the chicken wing for the win.
Rating:
D.
I like that someone talented like Smiley is getting a push, but I had
to sit through a Jerry Flynn match to get here. He’s another guy
whose consistent employment boggles my mind. He was just a step
above Glacier in ring work and had nothing interesting at all about
him, but he kept a job for years.
We see Bischoff wishing
Flair the best again. He promises to do the right thing.
Chris Jericho vs.
Perry Saturn
This should be more
entertaining. Jericho tries to get in a cheap shot in the corner and
gets slapped upside the head for his efforts. They hit the mat for
some technical stuff and Jericho gets one, meaning it’s time for an
overblown celebration. The fans think Jericho sucks and Saturn eggs
them on, so Jericho makes the referee cover his ears. Yep it’s
better than the previous two matches already.
They fight over control
again until Jericho gets tired of it and nails Saturn with a
clothesline. Another celebration allows Chris to pop up and
superkick him to the mat. The spinning legdrop gets two for Saturn
and a swinging neckbreaker does the same. Perry goes off on Jericho
in the corner but misses a charge, only to come back with a release
belly to belly suplex.
A top rope forearm
sends Jericho into the referee and you can smell Miller and Onoo from
here. Saturn hooks the Rings and here’s Miller to break them up. He
suplexes both Jericho and Miller but the numbers catch up to him,
allowing Ernest to kick him in the head. Jericho puts on the
Liontamer and the referee drops Saturn’s arm three times for the win.
Rating:
C.
The match was indeed more entertaining for multiple reasons, but the
biggest is that we’ve been given a reason to care about these two.
Rather than just having people who we occasionally see lose
elsewhere, these are two guys who have had success in the past and
it’s interesting to see them interact. Granted it was a way to push
Ernest Miller even more but you can’t win them all.
Side note: Jericho’s
eye got busted open off that forearm and there’s blood on the side of
his eye. It looks borderline terrifying.
Bischoff again. It’s
not the same promo but it’s the same idea.
The Flair Family is
brought out, Ric’s wife hugs Tony, and that’s it for them tonight.
So glad we spent so much time on this one.
Video on Nash vs.
Goldberg.
Scott Hall vs. Lex
Luger
Hall
comes out with no music as has been his custom lately. Disco comes
out to wish Luger luck but is ordered to the back. They fight over a
lockup to start with Luger easily shoving him down and flexing. Hall
grabs a headlock and here are Scott Steiner and Buff Bagwell down the
aisle. Luger takes Hall down by the hair, much to Steiner’s
approval.
Bagwell
starts a Luger chant as Hall puts Luger down with a clothesline and
puts on the double arm crank. As in Hall is grabbing Luger’s wrists
and bending Luger’s arms behind his back. To really show the
stupidity of this show, Luger spins it around so that Hall’s arms are
behind his own back. Hall stays in the hold for several seconds
instead of LETTING GO OF LUGER’S WRISTS. A low blow gets two for
Hall but Lex comes back with right hands. There’s the forearm and
Luger calls for the Rack, drawing in Steiner and Bagwell to attack
Hall for the DQ.
Rating:
F.
For that arm thing alone. I can’t get over that. The match was
nothing of note.
Post match Konnan comes
out and says Steiner and Bagwell jumped him earlier. Wait, so he
didn’t tell Luger this earlier in the hallway? Luger had like 40
minutes to get ready for his match and NEVER ASKED? How stupid are
the people in this company?
Tony
calls out Reid and David Flair to close the show. He’s about to talk
to David but here’s Bischoff to interrupt. Eric says he doesn’t want
any trouble and is so sorry for what he’s put the family through. It
must have hurt David the most as the oldest son. Eric says David
wants to be a wrestler and apologizes that David’s dad had such a
weak heart. A shot to the back puts David down and sends Reid after
Eric’s leg. This brings out Brian Adams and Barry Windham to easily
hold Reid back and beat up David. Eric leaves and kisses Flair’s
livid wife before WOOing to end the show.
Overall
Rating:
D+.
There’s a lot to talk about here. First and foremost, I really
question the logic of having Flair taken off television this close to
Starrcade. With no Thunder next week (Christmas Eve), Monday is the
go home show for the biggest show of the year and the main attraction
of the second biggest match on the card isn’t on TV? Come to think
of it, the second biggest name wrestling at Starrcade on the show
tonight was Rey Mysterio. They’re doing a really lame job of setting
up Starrcade, especially with a main event that isn’t the hottest
thing in the world.
Second,
this is Thunder arguably at its worst. It’s not that it’s bad
wrestling as the matches certainly aren’t horrible and some of it is
actually good. The problem is that most of it isn’t interesting. Of
the matches tonight, three of them have people the fans would care
about. We’ve seen Rey vs. Juvy a bunch of times, Hall vs. Luger was
more of an angle than a match, and Jericho could have been any given
wrestler against Saturn as the match was there to further another
feud.
Finally,
and this is a mild spoiler (for a show that aired over fifteen years
ago so I think it’s ok): a lot of this stuff isn’t going to mean
anything at Starrcade. Luger, Hall and Steiner won’t be wrestling on
the show, making their entire story pretty worthless. You know who
will be wrestling on Starrcade? Jerry Flynn, Norman Smiley, Fit
Finlay and Prince Iaukea. The lack of common sense or logical
wrestling booking knowledge in this company continues to astound me.
That’s it for Thunder
this year as the next two weeks are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Overall, Thunder in 1998 was…..pretty freaking dreadful most of
the time. There’s the occasional good match between the
cruiserweights, but more often than not it’s a totally worthless show
that adds almost nothing to WCW. Most of the guys on here are on
Thunder because they’re not important enough to get on Nitro most of
the time and their matches on Thunder aren’t much better. The show
just doesn’t need to exist and it’s not getting any better as time
goes on.
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